Following a recent government inspection, Joon-ho Yoon of the South Korean Democratic Party revealed that a government-operated animal shelter in Jeju Island had sent the corpses of 3,892 dogs that had either been euthanized or had died naturally to pet food manufacturers.

According to Assemblyman Yoon, Jeju Island’s animal shelter had sent dog cadavers to rendering enterprises that pulverized them and sold them to pet food companies.

Rendering a cadaver involves grinding up the body and sterilizing it under high pressure and temperature. This material is then usually used in the production of fertilizers and industrial materials.

This procedure is not illegal. Culled pigs affected by the African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) or Foot-and-Mouth disease (FMD) are also pulverized using the rendering technique. However, using such materials in animal food production is illegal, and can be punished with up to 3 years in prison or a maximum fine of 30,000,000 KRW (approx. $25,800 US.)

Assemblyman Yoon’s inquiry revealed that the rendering enterprises that had signed contracts with Jeju Island were registered as both “waste management” and “animal food manufacturing” companies. Thus, it was discovered that illegal procedures had taken place.

Jeju Island runs its own animal shelter. The animal shelter had transported dog corpses directly to the rendering factory, and was very likely aware that pet food was to be produced out of the delivered corpses.

In addition, based on our investigation, the listed ingredients in some pet foods are questionable. One substance labeled as “meat and bone powder” or “meat powder” cannot be clearly identified. We cannot rule out the possibility that cats and dogs could have consumed cat and dog matter.

In accordance with consumer rights, we have requested that the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) disclose the names of the rendering enterprises in question. Furthermore, we are investigating how 220 facilities all over South Korea are disposing of animal cadavers.

We urge MAFRA for a complete enumeration of all animal food manufacturers. They must take this issue seriously and officially apologize to the citizens of South Korea. Also, we strongly believe that through a complete enumeration, we should thoroughly enforce a safe, sanitary, and ethical animal food production process.

Featured image: Jeffrey O. Gustafson [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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